Since its launch in 2007, Google Street View has reached out to more than 100 cities worldwide, however has faced complaints related to privacy from many people and institutions that have been photographed. Street View provides 360-degree panoramic images of urban areas that the user can manipulate, as part of Google’s Internet mapping products.
Last month, some residents of an English village formed a human chain to stop one of Google camera vans. Last year, the Pentagon barred Google from photographing the U.S. military bases for Street View.
A few days back, Google was stopped from gathering street-level images in Greece. Greece’s Data Protection Authority (DPA) rejected Google’s bid to roam Greek streets with cameras mounted on the vehicles and asked Google for a clarifications on:
- How it will store and process the original images taken?
- How it will safeguard the images from privacy abuses?
- How it plans to inform the public about their activities?
The DPA statement said:
“Simply marking the car is not considered an adequate form of notification. The authority has reserved judgment on the legality of the service pending the submission of additional information, and until that time will not allow (Google) to start gathering photographs.”
Google’s assurance to the public:
Google had earlier assured that it would blur faces and vehicle license plates when displaying the images online and that it would promptly respond to removal requests.
However, that doesn’t seem to be enough.
Google statement said that expanding the service to Greece would help local residents and tourists alike:
- Those unable to visit Greece in person would be able to see the Acropolis and other ancient sites from their living rooms
- This is similar to how the service already lets users take virtual tours of the Colosseum in Rome and the Eiffel Tour in Paris.
The tool has become one of Google’s more controversial projects, with privacy advocates warning it could compromise people’s rights and leave them open to abuses by criminals or snooping government agencies.
(Image credit: flickr)